December 4, 2016: Hola everyone! Winter has arrived in Milwaukee and there are snow flurries today. Despite several hard freezes remarkably my "spikes" in two of my patio planters have absolutely refused to die. The rosemary and thyme plants I nursed inside the house through last winter spent the summer in their pot outside next to the side stoop off the driveway, where they get plenty of sunshine all day long. I transplanted them into a cozy sheltered spot right next to the stoop in October and they are still green and growing, too! With the delay in getting the drywall patching done in the relatively minor "reconstruction" work I had done in my kitchen, I am way behind my time in getting the house decorated. But yesterday I got my wreath decked out with extra lights and dressed the front door of the house, and my battery-operated traditional candles were put up on the window sills all around the house Friday evening. It becomes a ritual to go around at dusk and turn the tops to the right to turn the candles "on" and at bedtime to go around and turn the tops to the left to turn the candles "off." Today I put some "glittery" throw pillow covers purchased new last month from H&M on three of my sofa pillows to glam things up a bit in the living room and add some sparkle. Later on, after I sufficiently fuel myself up with wine and snacks and probably to distract myself while I listen to the Packers game on the radio, I will huff and puff and pull my artificial tree up from storage in the basement. I will decorate it simply this year. Every year I say that, and every year I end up throwing just about everything except the kitchen sink on the tree. I am very proud of myself this year, though. I did not buy a single new ornament or Christmas doo-dad for the house (throw pillow covers don't count!!!) Happy Holidays to all, with hope and fervent prayers for 2017. I've a feeling we're all going to need a lot of help from Goddess in the coming year. Jan

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The R-T-A from HELL!

Hola darlings!  This is a LONG post with lots of photos.

I passed my 62nd birthday and while I didn't celebrate many of my friends did and dragged me along :)  What can I say?  I'v never exactly been a party-pooper and if a friend wants to take me out for a drink or take me out to dinner at a new place just opened up to see what it's like, it's a little difficult to say No, Thank You, without sounding like a curmudgeon.  Actually, I am rather a curmudgeon -- it's one of those privileges that accrues with "age."  Loving it! 

I haven't been sitting on my hands, despite visible lack of progress on my main projects (stairs and family room).  I rearranged the bedroom, and now I'm going to be doing some adjustments - more about that later. I've also been working my butt off outside in the gardens during the nice stretch of weather we had recently -- I didn't feel like I was melting after 5 minutes outdoors, it was so refreshing! 

So, did I mention a post or two ago that I had been looking around for a new console table for my dinette area?  Maybe not, maybe I just dreamed it. But I was, and I finally settled on one at Target:

This is the Carson horizontal bookcase and I thought it would be just right for the space I wanted to put it in.  The height was what I wanted, the length was good for the wall in question, and the width was less than the Queen Anne sofa table (the beautiful table I purchased from my sister Yvonne) anchoring the space.  More room to walk, therefore, between the dining table and the console table. 

Now Jan, you are asking, why did you want to replace the beautiful Queen Anne style sofa table with a console?

It all came down to a matter of proportions.  I LOVE that Queen Anne table, I coveted it from my sister for YEARS, and finally had a chance to buy it when she and her hubby sold their place here and moved Up North (Prentice, WI -- waaaaaaaayyyyyy up north).  I set it up in the dinette area and it looked so pretty there on my gallery wall, even though it gave me no storage.  Loved the color, love the shape.  But the size -- ah, yes, the size.

In comparison to my dining table and chairs, it was dwarfed.  It just didn't look right.  I tried to overlook the obvious mismatch in styles and sizes, but in the end I decided I needed something that was closer in height and visual "weight" to my large scaled table and chairs, not the delicate and shapely lines of the Queen Anne table.  Sigh.

Here are some photos of the Queen Anne table in place in the dinette in relation to the table -- these will give you an idea of the size/proportion issues I mentioned:

So, I went ahead and ordered the Carson horizontal bookcase from Target.  It arrived quickly.  It was HEAVY!  I struggled to drag it in from the front porch to the front room over the threshold, oh my.  But after much tugging, heaving, and heavy breathing, I won.

I tore into the box...

Well packed, no damage to any of the pieces during shipping.  Hooray!

White styrofoam CRAP all over the place!

It took a long time to carry the pieces from the front room to the family room, where I assembled it.  Some of the pieces were incredibly heavy.  I got everything out of the packaging and relocated without damage.  But the finish was very fragile, as I learned...

I couldn't stand all the styrofoam bits and cleaned up with my Dirt Devil.  Mine is probably 15 years old now, and still works great!  Love that little gal.  She's got better suction through her hose attachment than my expensive vacuum cleaner (which I am soon going to junk -- lesson learned -- spending a lot of money on a vacuum doesn't necessarily mean it is any better than the $59.99 specials). 

I have lots of experiencing putting R-T-A together, including the desk in the family room, and at least a dozen bookcases over the years, some more complicated than others.  This looked simple enough.  It started with construction of the inner core shelving unit to the outer shell.  Made sense.

Except - the dowels didn't fit.  The cams didn't didn't lock properly.  The holes did not line up properly.  The instructions were short on words and long on drawings that were hard to decipher even with my magnifying Walgreens readers on!  In short, darlings, it was a nightmare!  EEK EEK EEK!

Over TWO weekends I struggled to put this sucker together, and I was SO pissed, I even thought about rejoining Facebook just so I could go to Target's Facebook page and blast them for this piece of crap!

Finally, in one big push the day before our investment club meeting (meets at my house) on August 18th, I worked my butt off until I got it together.  Sort of.

It is taped in some places...

This is part of the inner shelving unit.  There is a front facing that is supposed to be attached to each of two shelves with two dowels and two cam bolts.  Well, you can see the gap!  I tried everything, including resorting to pounding with a mallet to try and get those damn dowels to work -- no go.  Eventually I took the dowels out, which left a wobbly front facing that I taped to the bottom of the shelf with masking tape to stop it from jiggling!  Problem solved.  Just don't look too close (underneath the shelves...) 

Another issue was the fit.  I know how to use cam lock technology, geez!  You can see in the photo above that this shelf and the side it goes into was not engineered correctly and just did not fit snugly together, no matter how I finagled the cam bolt!  Finally, I just gave up, since this section is at the rear of the unit, and thankfully doesn't show as much.  You can also see the finish flaking off in places where the shelf fit into the side. Arggghhh!

The photo above is one of the inner core pieces across which two permanent shelves were to be affixed.  The instructions said to "carefully tap" dowels into the four spots that you can obviously see in this photo I totally blew out by tapping in just a little bit too hard!  Veneered finish on this MDF piece was totally blown to shreds -- on both sides of this piece and the companion piece supporting the other side of the shelves.  Yeah.  I was thrilled, as you can imagine...  Dowels were removed and the piece works fine without them. 

Yep, there is some of the finish veneer now laying on my family room rug. I saved the pieces and tried to glue them back onto the piece after it was all put together.  OHMYGODDESS, what a fiasco.  I glued my fingers together and the veneer pieces turned to mush.

Never say die!  I pushed onward, despite the hideous damage to the inner shelf supports.  Bottom struts and side (end) panels went on next.

Not the best photos, sorry.  You get the general idea, though.

Eventually, it was all together, except for putting the top piece and trim on.  It took me probably three hours trying this, that and the other thing to get the top on.  No go.  Dowels did not fit into holes, nothing lined up properly.  I eventually removed all of the dowels and left four cam bolts.  Still could not get the top lined up so it was flush with the top cam bolts.  I removed those last cam bolts too.  I gave up.  I didn't have any wood glue in the house so I just dry-fitted the top on to the body of the bookshelf and put it into place on the gallery wall.  That top piece is heavy.  It isn't going anywhere.

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