Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Three Cheers for the Lamb!

Have I really not posted any pictures of Scout for over a month? Is her development already so passe? Well, here it comes. Lately we've been...

...playing lots of peek-a-boo,...
...playing the piano...
...and just hanging out at home.
But then, last week it got fabulously warmer. Suddenly we could...

...go for walks,...
...wear short sleeves,...
...even sport bare feet sometimes!
Today, we equipped her with a hat whose sole purpose is to keep out the sun (well, that and look cute, of course).
Bring on the sunshine; we're ready for Spring!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Frugal Soul Gets Carried Away

If you've always figured I was a little strange, this posts should reassure you that you are right.

Ryan: if you actually read my blog(which I seriously doubt), perhaps this will make up for my not posting anything about the little incident with all the slips of paper in the road after church last week.

Several years ago, James and I got married.

We were married in Utah and had wedding receptions in both Utah and Arizona. We know lots of nice people, so we got a lot of presents. My parents loaded up all the Utah stuff in their suburban and drove it to Arizona for us. The only trouble is that we lived in Virginia. So, of course, all the presents had to get from Arizona to Virginia.

You'll notice that it's quite a long ways to go.

At first we planned to rent a car and drive everything across the country. But that didn't sound like much fun. Who drives across the hottest part of the country during the hottest part of the year? Well, actually, we did, two years later in the other direction, but that's another story.... So instead of driving across the country for three days, we spent two days returning everything we possibly could in exchange for very portable gift cards. If this upsets you, don't worry, I'm certain your particular gift was so great that we put it in the eight boxes of stuff we mailed ourselves.

Really, the boxes were full of everything we were unsuccessful at returning (and the amazing knives that remain one of my absolute favorite gifts even though at first I wasn't sure we should keep them along with the two less amazing knife sets we couldn't return--thanks Nancy!). Some of it I'm glad I couldn't take back (the fabulous green tupperware I didn't know I'd absolutely love) and some of it I'm not sure was worth the money we spent shipping it. Do you want to know whether people re-gifted stuff to you? Try returning it. My favorite moment was when I tried to return something to Bed Bath and Beyond and the clerk said, "Well, I'm pretty sure this did come from our store, but we haven't carried this product for at least two years." Hmmm....

Anyway, some of the gift cards were not eventually spent purchasing the items we got credit for. And really, who can blame us? We really did receive about eight cutting boards, five knife sets and forty dishtowels. So, while stocking our new apartment, we used part of one of our gift cards to acquire a bookshelf. Being an inexpensive-type bookshelf, some assembly was required. And so our troubles began.

While James was assembling this lovely bookshelf, the included screw broke off in the socket, making it impossible to put the shelf together. Fortunately, the manufacturer had anticipated just such a problem and included an address where we could send for any missing parts. We sent for a new side piece and one arrived shortly. But what to do with the old side piece? It was made of sturdy wood, a lovely color and perfectly good except for the screw broken off in one side of it.

And here's where the lesson in Melanie's character begins. A normal person would likely have disposed of the side piece with little thought. But I hate wasting. I think people focus way too much on the recycle piece of the reduce-reuse-recycle environmental trifecta. We should all reuse things more, and reduce the amount we consume in the first place, creating less waste. So I determined that this end piece should not go to waste. But what to do with it?

The bookshelf itself didn't turn out to be all that great. We do still have it, but it has to be set up in a corner because it leans a great deal and would likely collapse without a wall next to it for support.
So, with the bookshelf investment not turning out so well, I felt I had to make good use of the end piece. Well, I thought it could be made into a picture frame. And a craftier, less busy person who owned a saw would have made one straightway. But I am not crafty, I was in law school at that point, and sadly we did not use any of our gift cards to acquire a saw (incidentally, we just bought one this last week, but that was to complete a project that has needed doing for over nine months now, to give some perspective). So, I held onto the end piece, planning a lovely picture frame of sorts, once I came across a saw. No saws were forthcoming, but I did have James go ahead and hang it on the wall one day when he was hanging other things. I had another clever decorating idea in mind, and thought he'd just as well put in the nails, since his hammer was out (there's a certain illogical efficiency in my inability actually to get anything done).

And the end piece remained there on the wall for the next two years. And I never did do anything with it, but there it was until it came time for us to leave Virginia and move to Wisconsin.

Here comes my character once again. In addition to eschewing waste, I am quite stubborn. Let's call it tenacious, to give it a positive spin. Now that I had held onto it so long, I felt that I had to do something with the end piece. Wouldn't I feel stupid to just throw it away after all that time? Besides, we were on the way to visit both our parents on the way to Wisconsin. Surely one of them would loan us a saw for a few minutes. So I packed the end piece in the trunk of the car along with all of the other possessions we couldn't live without for three months, and we headed across the country.

The end piece came with us through Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona (where I forgot to ask about a saw), California, Utah (where I forgot to get it out of the car at all--in my defense, I was studying for, taking and recovering from the Bar Exam during this period), Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota and finally Wisconsin, where it found a new home. Having hauled it all that way, I knew we'd soon make friends with someone who owns a saw and held onto it. Then, I came up with a new and less crafty decorating plan that involved the end piece and may not require a saw at all. In the meantime, I thought it would help make the mantle more asymmetrical and put it there.
(Please excuse the hangers on the mantle. They are not part of the decorating scheme, but I had some laundry drying at the time this photo was taken.)

And there it sat, on the mantle, for another year and a half. Until the other day, when I was dusting (not for the first time in that year and a half, mind you) and decided to rearrange some things. And I decided that the end piece was just a dust collector and a pointless reminder of my tendency toward being a pack rat, my never ending to-do list and my inability to get rid of things, even when they're unlikely ever to be useful again. And so, I removed it from the mantle, replaced it with a nifty bottle that I hope will add a less odd, if also less imposing, sense of asymmetry. The bottle was, incidentally, a wedding gift (which we did not try to return--thanks Jess!), and is doing a satisfactory job.
James says he feels that something is missing, but I think it's an improvement. And if in another week or so he still misses it, I can always put it back because, of course, I can't quite bring myself to throw away the end piece just yet.