My “Relaxing” Weekend Off!

file0001456444395I kept fairly calm at work this weekend, which may have been a direct result of not actually having been there either Friday or Saturday evening. There was only one really annoying guy on Sunday night, but I refrained from sticking my foot up his ass (it was difficult, but I managed). Don’t worry though, I found some other things to whine about this fine Monday morning.

I should have felt like the Queen of England, having two unplanned weekend nights off in a row! (We were severely overstaffed and I took full advantage!) I did not, however, engage in any Queen of England-type activities — unless you think Lizzie pops over to the local Ikea, drags (very heavy!) boxes into the car and up the stairs, and then proceeds to spend her Saturday evening hobnobbing with her cat whilst putting together rather large shelving units and waxing freshly painted tables.

I purchased one of those 16-cube Ikea storage units. (Sadly, the 24-unit job won’t fit!) As I laid it out and began to assemble it, the cube-like nature of the beast attracted the other beast that lives in my house — the cat. The second anyone in this house (usually that would be me) commences any sort of project that requires tools and concentration, The Great Fananini emerges from under my daughter’s bed. It’s not in his nature to be unobtrusive, either. He doesn’t just sit there and observe or supervise (generally that’s Fang’s job). The Great Fanganini enjoys getting involved in projects! As I was attempting to put this thing together, to maintain it’s squareness, to insure that the pieces were correctly and securely united, the cat seized the opportunity to jump from one cube to another — like he was having his own personal game of hopscotch.

No amount of “shooing” nor my half-hearted and feeble attempts at engaging him in his other favorite activity — the fetching of hair elastics — could dissuade him from hunkering down in one cube and springing into the next one — not even the use of the rubber mallet. Cats, and The Great Fanganini is no exception, are not big fans of loud noises. Normally, once any sort of banging begins, which includes the opening and closing of a cabinet door, he makes a beeline for the safety and security of his lair. Not this time, though. No. Apparently, so intrigued was he by the cubes that he was able to ignore the noise that the rubber mallet was making as it drove the shelves together.

It would have been fine, really, if he just played his little game in the cubes that had already been assembled. This would have allowed me to at least go about my business. But, no. Instead and because he’s old and tires easily (I can sympathize!) he continually got “stuck” in the cubes. He’s also ginormous. (He outweighs both of my friends little yippy dogs combined!) As a result, I had to keep stopping in order to extricate him from the cube — and then listen to him whine when he couldn’t get back into the next cube. Being the idiot that I am, rather than ignore his pathetic mewling, I “helped” him play his game. This required me to stop what I was doing and “place” him into the next cube. This added an element of difficulty to what was already an annoying enterprise.

Needless to say, construction of the shelf unit took far longer, from start to finish, than it should have. Far longer. By the time I had completed the task, removed the cat, and lifted the foolish thing to an upright position, my daughter was heading off to work. “Wait!”, I cried. “I need you to help me push this stupid thing up against the wall before you go!” From my tone, the ever helpful Fangette knew better than to deny me. She and I pushed it up against the wall — the wall where Fang, prior to skipping out for a weekend down the shore with “the boys”, insists it go.

Of course it doesn’t fit on that wall. Why? Because I have a GIANT treadmill that resides (and operates as a handy “catch-all” for coats, scarves, the odd glove, and other cast-off foul weather gear) on that wall. A treadmill that, if it weren’t for it’s capacity to hold unneeded outerwear, would, I’m certain, be covered in the amount of dust that one would normally associate with the sealed burial sites of long-dead Egyptian Pharoahs.

The presence of the treadmill as a focal point in my living room has been a bone of contention for Fang and I for quite some time. Before the hovel purge and the redecorating began, it was simply an eyesore, but now that things are starting to come together here, it just has to go. (Black plastic and chrome do not lend themselves to my “shabby chic” design scheme!) It needs to find a new home — preferably one not in this zip code. I told Fang that if he didn’t allocate space in his closet (maybe near the golf clubs that he never uses?) for the foolish thing, that the new location might just be his side of the bed — and I don’t just mean adjacent to the bed, in front of his table — I mean ON the actual bed where HE actually sleeps. If I could lift the damn thing and if I could bear to see it resting upon my beautiful toile quilt, I would have done it already. Maybe if I cover it in cubes, I might be able to enlist the cat’s help.

The ever optimistic Fang holds out some small kernel of hope that he will use the treadmill again. He won’t. It’s old and it’s worn out. Even my workout crazed daughter won’t go near it. Fangette claims it barely moves; Fang contends that it just needs a little oil. (I refuse to even comment on whether it might be the dust or a stray mitten that may, in fact, be clogging up the works!) Regardless of its condition, I am finished with it. Even if it were brand spanking new — pristine, even — I would want it gone. Because we do NOT have room for it. (We never did!)

Tomorrow is Fang’s birthday. Guess what I’m getting him? A gym membership! I understand that this is where people who do not have room for home exercise equipment go to stay in shape. (In Fang’s case, that would be pear-shaped.) I hear they have modern, working treadmills at those places. I understand that folks actually use them for, you know, treading — not as we use ours, you know, for storage and dust collecting.

Between the cat, the treadmill, and some of the problems I encountered with “dark wax” — problems that I do not have the wherewithal to get into right now, but let’s just say it has not lent the desired effect to the tables that I have worked long and hard on — I realized something this weekend. It occurred to me that even though I didn’t work and regardless of the fact that my husband and daughter were not even here, I still found a way to become annoyed, to maintain an increased stress level and to engage in manual labor. I have reached the stunning conclusion that, perhaps, it’s not the rest of the world that drives me crazy — perhaps I’m simply wired this way.

photo credit:
treadmill

The Laundry Edict of 2013

washerdryerI’ve recently instituted a new policy here at the hovel. It’s called “Do your own freakin’ laundry!” This is a policy that I feel is self-explanatory, in that the title of the policy and the actual policy are one and the same.

If my was objective was to be obtuse, I could have used a tactic employed by governments the world over and called it something like “Revised Guidelines Regarding the Division of Labor in Relation to the Agitator-driven and Gas-generated Hot Air-blowing Machineries Located in the Basement Act of 2013”. (Be it duly noted that the RGRDLRAGHALBA, will replace the GRDLRAGHALBA, enacted the 4th day of November, 1989, which placed sole responsibility for those machineries located in the basement squarely on the shoulders of the female head of household). I could understand, had I engaged in this kind of obfuscation, why the members of my household might be confused by the new policy.

I did no such thing. To be fair, I neither consulted any of the folks that would be adversely affected by the institution of this new policy prior to enacting it nor were they given anything even remotely resembling “plenty of notice”. Unlike the government, which at least pretends at something called democracy, here at the hovel we make no such claims to democratic rule. It’s a straight up dictatorship. Sure, we aim for benevolence, but it’s not required.

I realize that I’m generously calling it a policy, rather than what it truly is — an edict. I am doing this in an effort to seem a little more, well, benevolent. Because, really, nobody likes a bitch. Further, no one has any sympathy for a lazy bitch. So, let me just assure you that this new policy does not stem from outright laziness on my part, rather the enactment of this policy was designed to light a fire under Fangette. Much like her father, who thinks that gourmet meals, such as grilled cheese and soup, just make themselves, Fangette has been operating (for quite some time) under the delusion that I enjoy spending my days hunting and gathering. More specifically, hunting for whatever item of clothing she has misplaced, but that she desperately needs in the immediate future, and gathering together that and other items, so that I can then spend untold hours of my days, weeks, and months, laundering those things that I have managed to unearth from the atrocity that is her bedroom floor. Just last week I spent close to an hour trying to uncover where in that black hole one very important (to her) lacy ecru camisole had gotten itself to. Ultimately, with a little detective work and the employment of my trusty flashlight, I was able to uncover the mystery of the missing lacy ecru camisole. It was under her bed, wedged between the never-opened telescope from the Christmas of 2008 and some outdated and, more than likely, incomplete board games. (Anyone up for a rousing game of Candyland?)

womanunderbed

That, ladies and gentlemen, was it. My dustbunny covered self decided right then and there that she, at almost 17 years old, was capable of doing her own laundry. (I also found myself wishing that the skills I have acquired throughout my many years of diving under beds and couches, rifling through discarded gym bags, and ferreting through closets to uncover lost belongings were more marketable!) When I advised Fangette of my decision to stop doing her laundry, one would have thought that I had asked her to take the old washboard off of the kitchen wall, haul her dirty clothes out back to the creek (really it’s more of a stream, but a body of water is a body of water) and bang her clothes against it with a rock. That was not my expectation at all. I reminded her that we have machines that do that sort of thing now. And that all that was required of her was that she take it down the stairs and throw it in said machinery. Believe me, she knows this. She’s a smart kid. She’s been watching me do it for years.

Thus far the peasantry, as I have come to think of Fangette, has resisted The Laundry Edict of 2013. I’m fairly certain she didn’t take it seriously — until last night, that is. Last night she came in from work and pitched an absolute fit because she had no clean clothes. A fit, mind you, that I valiantly chose to ignore. Mainly because that’s just the type of behavior one comes to expect of us lazy bitches and also because it was after 11 PM and, really, who wants to engage an angry adolescent on the heels of her five-hour movie theater concession stand shift who is in a snit about laundry? Not me, I can tell you that. Ultimately, though, the slamming of drawers and banging of doors became too much for poor old Fang who was, at this point, threatening to get out of bed and “take care of this nonsense”.

Rather than listen to the two of them duke it out (metaphorically, of course — this is, after all, a non-violent authoritarian regime), I rolled out of bed to have a “talk” with Fangette. It went rather well, considering the lateness of the hour and the mood of the participants. She made her usual circular arguments regarding her busy life (school, work, social media commitments — okay, I added that last one, but still); I listened patiently, but stuck to my guns — explaining, once again, that a large part of growing up entails being responsible for, among other things, one’s own personal hygiene, which includes clean jeans and sports bras. There were some jabs as to whether or not I had been the best role model and, I’ll admit, I haven’t always been the poster child for cleanliness and organization, but no one in this house has ever gone out into the world wrinkled or unclean on my watch.

momandteenagertalking

I left the conversation feeling like we had reached an agreement about more than just laundry. Further, we had done so calmly and in a reasonable manner. I was convinced that at least for a short while she would cooperate by obeying the edict, which gave me hope for greater things like, for example, a more harmonious household. What I didn’t count on was the possum.

possumondrivewayYeah. You read that correctly, the possum. Or opposum. I have no idea if there is a scientific difference between a possum and an opposum or whether the difference is just semantics. Here’s what I do know: A possum forced the repeal of The Laundry Edict of 2013. And, it’s all my husband’s fault.

Don’t misunderstand me, he had nothing to do with my coming face-to-face with the beady-eyed creature outside of the laundry room. Okay, maybe it was more like snout-to-shin — it wasn’t some genetically-engineered giant possum for heaven’s sakes. He can’t be blamed for the existence of the possum of the driveway or the fact that I nearly had a heart attack outside of the laundry room. No. It’s what he did with his knowledge of the possum in the backyard that ultimately led to my daughter’s adamant refusal to make use of the laundry facilities.

Listen, I get it. There’s very little that’s funnier than telling the story of your wife being surprised by the unexpected appearance of a possum. If the shoe was on the other foot and he had been the one to stumble across the possum armed only with a blue plastic Ikea bag full of clean laundry, you can bet the farm that I would have run, at something resembling world record pace, to get to my phone so that I could tell the story to whomever I could get on the horn. Once I’d stopped laughing my ass off, that is.

My only "weapon"!

My only “weapon”!

I was trying my best to keep him quiet, so as not to alert Fangette, who was in her room, supposedly studying. (Well, at least she hustled off there on that premise when I had asked for her help with dinner earlier! For all I know she’s heading up a black market gun-running operation in that hot mess she lives in.) Fangette has an uncanny ability to appear in those exact moments when she is not wanted. Tonight would prove to be no different. She burst into the living room and demanded to know what was so funny. Fangette almost never quietly appears in a room; she also rarely makes polite requests.

I attempted to play it off, to distract her with the promise of some succulent Thai chicken — to no avail. As for Fang, well, he was just obliviously ignoring my signals. He was, in fact, behaving as if he had never seen the “Shhhhh!” sign in his life.

Woulda distracted me!

Woulda distracted me!

And, honestly, he may not know what the “Shhhhh!” sign means. I don’t know what he did in school. Slept? Daydreamed? He claims to have had near-perfect attendance, which I can believe because it has carried over into his work life — Fang is one of those infuriating coworkers who almost never misses a day of work. He’s the guy that has to be told to go home when he’s sick. He’s not punctual, necessarily, but he’s reliable in that everyone knows that he will, eventually, appear at his desk. Fang is one of those people who gets points for showing up, but not necessarily for paying attention.

It’s often shocking to me what he doesn’t know. One of his favorite retorts when I am exasperated with his lack of basic knowledge on almost any subject is “if that’s true, then every little school boy would know it”. I have spent countless hours explaining to him that most little school boys do, indeed, know things like where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated (Ford’s Theater), where the Revolutionary War began (Lexington and Concord), and what Einstein is famous for (The Theory of Relativity). He is neither stupid nor was he poorly educated, he just doesn’t pay a stick of attention. I often find myself in situations where we will go to, say, a restaurant. He often says things like, “Wow! This place is great. How come we haven’t been here before?”, which leads me to enumerate not only the number of times we have been there before, but other relevant things regarding the venue, such as, which menu items we previously enjoyed and with whom we enjoyed them. Seriously. This is what I’m up against.

shhhh!Not surprisingly, Fang missed the “Shhhhh!” sign, the dagger eyes I was pointing at him, and the finger across the throat that, I think, universally signifies “shut the fuck up already!”. Fang would never make it out alive in a clandestine operation. I’m sure you see where I’m going with this. Fang spilled the beans about the possum. Fangette took this information and used it to her advantage. She pounced on it like the possum would have pounced on me had it not been for the giant bag of clean laundry that I very quickly managed to put between my leg and its teeth. I’ll bet you didn’t know that possums had razor-like teeth, did you? I didn’t. Generally speaking, when I think of possums I envision cute little furry things hanging by their furry striped tails somewhere deep inside of the forest while smiling. That’s right. They’re just happily hanging around. I blame this on children’s books and their infuriating need to anthropomorphize dangerous critters. And, really, it’s my own fault, given that most of my knowledge of aardvarks has been gleaned from reading or watching episodes of “Arthur”. I’ll bet, in nature, aardvarks don’t hang around with rabbits or bears and haven’t learned lessons of tolerance from rats.

Razor sharp teeth!!!

Razor sharp teeth!!!

As a result of my near-miss with the possum and my husband’s inability to keep his mouth shut, Fangette will not be venturing out to the laundry room any time soon. I hold out hope that she will, at the very least, hunt for and gather up her own clothing. I just pray that she never sees a mouse under her bed. Because if she does, whatever clothing winds up there will remain there forever. Because I won’t be going under there either. On the bright side, the mice could always use whatever discarded clothing items they find to make Cinderella a new frock. micemakingcinderellasdress

photo credits:
washer/dryer
woman under bed
mother and teenage daughter
thai chicken
possum on driveway
possum baring teeth
Shhhhh!
mice making Cinderella’s dress
blue Ikea bag

Trading one addiction for another!

IkeaI was a little worried that I was becoming addicted to Ikea. And, really, no one wants that. And by no one I mean my husband.

It started innocently enough. I got a loveseat there, but like any gateway drug, the loveseat led, inevitably, to more. The more in this case was a chair. A new television warranted a larger media console (sounds so much better and fancier than television stand, don’t you agree?), which required another trip to Ikea where I left with not only the media console, but also with a couple of free-standing cabinets for the kitchen.

Not unlike children’s birthday parties, redecorating projects can quickly get out of hand. One minute you’re calmly lining up all the kiddies for a nice round of pin the tail on the donkey, the next thing you know, little Shushma is nearly stabbed with the thumbtack that is, well, integral to the game (plus, you didn’t have any Fun tack). Luckily, also integral to the game is the blindfold that, as luck would have it, took the brunt of little Shusma’s near blinding. Who’d have thunk that a recently spun kid, now dizzy from the spinning and armed with a sharp object would become confused and point this same sharp object at her very own eye? Not you, that’s for sure. Naturally, panic ensues and a little party game becomes, to put it mildly, frenzied and chaotic.

Frenzied and chaotic would be excellent adjectives to describe my former decorating style. You know, if it fits, it sits; if it’s free, it’s for me. This philosophy led to many, many mismatched and ugly pieces of furniture over the years. This time, though, I am determined to be different. To take my time. To think things through. To actually make an effort at some kind of style. I’ve chosen Cottage Chic or Shabby Chic, or whatever those design-y folks are calling it these days. I like it’s ease. I like it’s comfort. I like that it’s basically built around the color white, which even I can’t screw up. Although who knew just how many shades of white there are out there? Not me. Not at the outset. Now I know. It’s slightly worrisome, but I’m going to soldier on. I like slipcovers that I can throw in the wash. Although I am, at this very moment, writing this in an effort to delay doing just that. So, what else is new? “What do you mean you didn’t get the pen off the couch cushion today?” “I was writing. Do you think blog posts just materialize? Like pizza? Which, by the way, only appears because I picked up the phone and ordered it. Sheesh!”

I will not even get into how a nearly 17-year-old girl-child got ink on my nearly brand-new white slipcovered Ektorp loveseat or how this almost caused World War III to erupt right here in Northern New Jersey. The point is that I can get it out with a little hairspray and some laundering, which I plan on doing right after I finish writing this post. So, get off my back, wouldja?

That Ikea though, what a place, huh? So clean and organized and well-lit. They kind of make you want to live in those rooms, no doubt while enjoying their equally enticing menu selections — namely, the Swedish meatballs and the cinnamon buns — don’t they? Yup. They do. And I fell prey to their evil genius. I am, after all, a mere mortal in search of affordable white wood-like furniture pieces that I can shabbify with some toile curtains, gingham pillows, and possibly a bit of interesting molding.

To this end I made a list of all of the things that I know the good Lord would want me to have from Ikea. Even Our Lord could not convince Fang to live in a catalog page. He wanted to check out other places that sell furniture. All I can say is “Screw the Lord and Thank Heavens for Fang!” because if my husband had not talked me down from the crazy Ikea branch that I had found myself perched upon, I never would have found my current obsession — a place not far from here called “Handpainted by Cookie”.

Maybe it was the paint fumes, but the minute I walked into this joint I knew I had found a kindred spirit. This woman, along with her handy and affable husband, obtains antiques that would otherwise end up in landfills or spend the rest of their days as chipped wood. They make any necessary minor repairs and provide them with beautiful paint jobs. Oh, and there’s also a dog that greets you at the door. Gotta love a place of business where pets are permitted to roam around.

The actual showroom is small, but delightfully decorated. I fell in love with and ultimately bought a white chalk-painted Art Deco dining table with a pop-up leaf and six gorgeous chairs. I have my eye on a beat up china closet that I spied in the warehouse. I know it will look fetching in a lovely shade of dove gray with white hardware. Even Fang agrees that it’ll work for us, but I am, uncharacteristically, going to wait until I get the table in and situated before I make any hasty decisions.

If it looks this good in a parking lot, can you even imagine what it will look like in my dining area???

If it looks this good in a parking lot, can you even imagine what it will look like in my dining area???

Tomorrow The Redhead and I will head over to “Handpainted by Cookie” and load up Bubba with my new purchases. While I’m there I’m hoping to convince Cookie that she should be on the look out for a French Provincial desk with cabriole legs for the woman who, in the coming months, will become her best customer. Because I need lots of shabby things. Lots.

If you’re sitting there shaking your head and thinking, like Fang, that I’ve just traded one addiction for another, you’d be right. I would, however, make the argument that this tiny slice of heaven located in an unassuming Moonachie, New Jersey warehouse is a far, far better obsession to have than Ikea.

photo credits:
Ikea
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