Su Lum: Slumming
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado
In last week’s episode, I reported that my daughter Skye had engineered the transformation of my ratty living room into a movie theater, ordered a new bed on the Internet, straightened out all my VCR tapes (including some city council classics from the ’80s on) and added up all my medical expenses for income-tax purposes – a pile of papers that had been staring at me from my kitchen table for months.
I had heard plenty of Internet-buying disaster stories from my daughter Hillery. She and her husband Bruce recently finished building (and I mean from the ground up – wiring, plumbing and clearing the road included) their ultra-modern small house in Leadville, so it was not without trepidation that I ordered a bed, sight unseen, from – it turned out – Canada.
In the photograph, it was exactly what I wanted: A queen size so those double/queen sheets would fit, big enough so I would no longer be squashed by dachshunds, a headboard with shelves (not easy to find) and, most important, LOW enough so that I (and the puppies) could get onto it.
We settled on a bed from an outfit called Prepac. Ordered it on Saturday, Feb.12, and it arrived Friday, Feb. 18, in three long boxes, weighing 100 pounds each, which the UPS man sweetly dragged inside because a storm was coming in and I’m a little old lady on oxygen.
If something is too good to be true, it usually isn’t. The bed, which is a platform bed (hence the lowness of it), was just what I wanted, or thought I wanted. And it was cheap by bed standards: $366 with free shipping. Over the holidays, I bought a $60 Heavenly ham for the family Christmas dinner and it cost $50 to ship it from Ohio. That ham only weighed 10 pounds, and I couldn’t imagine how the company had made any money on this mess in my living room by shipping it free. So I was a little nervous.
On Sunday morning, Skye and her friend Colleen ripped apart the bed that had come with the house in 1972, washed all the walls, took down and Windexed all the framed photographs and artwork, vacuumed the floor and opened the boxes, which held what seemed like hundreds of boards of different sizes and thousands of brackets and screws and nails to put it together.
The dogs huddled in a corner wondering what the hell was going on, and I tried to stay out of the way and the hammering began. At about 2 p.m. Colleen left to get beer and pick up her boys from skiing. Jake and I watched Harry Potter on the new flat-screen TV while Matt jumped into the construction project. By 3:15 they were bringing in the new mattress, bought from American Furniture Warehouse and stored in the shed, and the bed was finished.
And the thing is, it was beautiful. It was precisely what I wanted. The bottom sheet, which had been all bunched up on my old bed, fit without a ripple. The second the sheet was put on the bed, Nicky and Freddie leapt up their custom-made stairs and snuggled into their “dream sack” from Dachshund Delights, as if to say, “So that’s what you were doing – making a new bed for US.”
That night I slept like a log, uncrowded by design.
With the new bed and the new dresser I had impulsively bought when picking out the new mattress, the room looked very spiffy except for the bedside table that I had bought in the ’80s at Ernie Ashley’s garage sale. Its drawer doesn’t close all the way shut, and the wood doesn’t match either the bed or the dresser, oh dear.
In my living-room theater, the couch is looking very tacky. I still miss the comfortable old cat-clawed, down-filled couch that weighed half a ton and that I got rid of years ago. If I could go back in time, I’d have it re-upholstered, but we’re going forward now. Onward.
The next project will be the books. I can only read a few pages a day and depend almost entirely on books on tape (CD), but every time I’ve culled my books I’ve regretted it almost immediately. I’d be reminded of a book, reach for it, and it would be gone. Just the other day something I read about or heard on NPR reminded me of the book, “Soul of the Ape,” and I went to the animal/nature section of a bookcase in my living room and there it was, with articles about the author tucked inside.
Skye understands my hesitancy to cull, but the last two decades of books are all out of order and the old ones – four decades – are definitely in need of a thorough dusting.
When my mother was in her late 90s, we would carry down armloads of books from the attic and second floor, which she could no longer access, and she would greet them as old friends. She could barely read anymore, but out of a dozen books she’d pick four to “read later,” and as for what to get rid of, there were none. You never know when you want to go back to a book, even if just to hold it.
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