Monday, November 19, 2012

Storage Wars: Rookie Edition

God love him, but Scott has a passion for time-consuming hobbies.

Take for instance his triathlon training. I mean if you are going to be training anyway, you might as well train for the Ironman. What’s another five hours of working out per week, when you’re already putting in ten?

So it should come as no surprise that rehabbing old furniture is also on his list. This works out great for me, since I have a passion for wanting rehabbed old furniture in my home.

It all started with a wooden trunk that we bought off my brother after he had purchased a few at an estate auction. It was covered in thick black paint that took approximately one month to completely strip and sand down to bare wood, but look at it now.

Other Projects:

Cedar hope chest which was given to my great aunt by an ex-fiancĂ© (maybe it was just a boyfriend) around the time of the war. SCANDALOUS! (Also notice that kick-ass blanket that I handmade myself.  We are such a crafy family.)

School desks from the Bay Village Historical Society.  We paid $20 for them.

Desk chair Scott’s office was going to throw away

Card catalog that had been in Scott’s grandmother’s garage so long it was fifty shades of busted wood when we got it.

Since he is wrapping up the last card catalog/end table, he started browsing for auctions to pick up something new to work on. That’s when he found the auction ad for a salvage store we had visited several times close to Cleveland.

This store had a shit ton (my favorite form of measurement) of old architectural elements that had been stripped out of houses. Doors, lead-glass windows, mantels, hardware, etc. It was, honestly, a disaster to try to shop in the place, it was packed so tight. As far as “antiques” went, it was definitely a place where you used the term loosely, but it did have some pretty cool pieces every now and then.

The owner had died and her son was auctioning off the complete contents of the three-floored store, as well as, some storage space she had above another antique store across the street.

The wheels started turning. One, Scott wanted a chest of drawers. Two, we need to redo our upstairs bathroom and were thinking of either using an old table as the base, or getting two pedestal sinks. Three, we figured if we could get a Lot of ten doors for $100, we could resell them and pay for everything.

One problem. Our auction experience is limited to watching A&E’s Storage Wars and Discovery’s Auction Kings. But really, what better experience do you need?

Saturday morning we unloaded the kids on Nana and Papa and headed downtown. We figured we’d know right away if we were in over our heads with the competition, so we just casually got ourselves a number and started casing the joint.

Right away I see this awesome farmhouse-style cabinet that I need to have. (Where we would put it is of little concern.) This is definitely one of the nicest pieces of furniture in the place though, so I don’t have high hopes that we could actually win a bidding war.

There are a couple other potential pieces we have our eyes on in the main store and we are debating the merits of buying an entire room of records that are being sold as one Lot. And we’re definitely going to think about buying either a Lot of doors or a Lot of windows. Depending on how many actual salvage store dealers have shown up to bid against.

Then we head across the street to the upstairs storage.

I suppose when some people think of precious antique furniture they may picture their meticulous grandmother’s attic. With dust covers, recently swept floors, and limited fire damage to the surrounding overall structure. Now picture the opposite.

Basically the contents looked like they had been stacked for kindling in an attempt to secure some insurance money via arson. I had serious reservations about the amount of people that the dilapidated floor would be able to hold.

But here is where we found the chest of drawers that had been pictured on the website. And upon further inspection there was a retro red diner set, complete with four vinyl chairs, and a corner hutch with a rather shabby chic door.

Problem was, this auction was selling whole rooms as Lots. There was some parceling of items, but we weren’t quite sure how that worked and figured we might just have to find the winning bidder to make an offer on an individual piece.

We had about twenty minutes before the auction to make our plan and set our budget a la Brandi and Jarrod. Unlike Auction Kings and more like Storage Wars, we would be following the auctioneer from room to room, and he decided he was going to start across the street in the fire trap.

Now whether people weren’t paying attention or had no interest, not as many bidders followed us across the street. So when the first Lot went for $10, Scott and I exchanged excited glances.

The next lot contained all the items down the middle of the large room and included the retro diner table. The bidding started at $100 but had no takers. $50. Silence. Scott and I looked at each other. $25. Scott raised his number. The auctioneer asked for $35 a few times, but there were no takers, so we won a room full of furniture for $25.

Let me repeat that.

We just won A ROOM FULL OF FURNITURE for $25. Umm. Okay. Glad we don’t have to have all this stuff out today, considering we drive a Ford Edge.

Next we walk towards the room with the chest of drawers. He auctions off another room first that goes for $45. And then we bid on the room with the chest at $25. Again, no other takers.

Holy shit, we just bought TWO ROOMS OF FURNITURE!

Okay, time to adjust the game plan. Scott calls his dad to come strategize with us and we head back across the street. At this point they start auctioning the doors and windows, but we don’t know how we are getting the stuff we already bought home, let alone a Lot of ten solid oak doors.

The auctioneer makes it to one of the furnished rooms and asks if there are any pieces that people want auctioned separately. Someone asks for a mantel, and they get it for $20. Scott asks for the pedestal sink and he gets it for $25. That’s right. We just bought a pedestal sink.

Scott goes to the street to watch for his dad and leaves me with our number when my cabinet comes up. At the start of the day, Scott had originally agreed he’d be willing to go $120 for it. The shop owner had it priced at $585 (it had obviously been there for a while). I’m standing behind the auctioneer, so when it starts these other two guys are bidding on it.

I got it for $90. That’s right. I just bought a frickin’ china cabinet. That I have no space for in my dining room.

This clinches it. It is less than an hour into the auction and we need a U-Haul. Better retire our number.

And so I head back over to inventory our soot covered loot. I knew the room with the chest of drawers also had a desk, wardrobe, and two tables for sure. Turns out, there was also another desk (“There’s a fifty dollar bill, Brando”), a bar cabinet (“Another hundred bill.”), some leaded windows, a mantel, and a deacon’s bench (“Another two hundred bill. All day long, Brando.”).

In the back room with the retro diner set, there was no less than four corner hutch built ins, a church pew, a teacher’s school desk, another dresser, two imperial chairs, and some mission-like shelves that no longer had their cabinet doors. As my father-in-law later warmly and accurately quoted our friend Darrel Sheets, “This room is just crapping money, Brando.”

We do grab a U-Haul and start…well…hauling (down a flight a rickety, steep stairs of course). I’m covered in a fine black powder within sixty seconds. I have no doubt developed black lung and probably should have gotten a tetanus booster. But two hours later and we have our first truck loads ready to go.

When I put a rather pathetic plea out on facebook, my friend Jenna graciously volunteered her husband and his pick-up for our next load. I have a feeling she did not pass along my warning about the “black plague” and immensity of it all, but that man is an absolute angel and we got all the rest in the next trip. (We did let him pick out a piece of furniture free of charge, lest you think we are complete assholes.)

My brother (who is more of an American Pickers type of guy) showed up after all the work was done to browse the merchandise, somehow scamming us out of the big round table and the church pew, for way less than they are worth on eBay. Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday for the next decade. He’s lucky his wife is so nice.

So yeah, we are keeping my cabinet, one dresser, the wardrobe, a corner hutch, the bar cabinet, the deacon’s bench, the imperial chairs, two mirrors, and three leaded windows. And I have actually thought of a place for each and ever single piece.

All other items for sale (see my facebook profile for pictures!)

I don’t expect Scott to come out of his workshop for the next twelve months (except to train for his next Ironman). More remote control time for me! I think we’ll switch over from Storage Wars to Rehab Addict for a while.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Reason #234 Why I am Not a Girl Scout Troop Leader

…overnights. Then what, you may ask, would have persuaded me to volunteer to chaperone such an event? Quite simply, my daughter asked me.

You would think that having two girls would have turned me numb to giggle fits, high pitch screeching, and a blatant disregard for the voice of authority figures. You would be tragically wrong.
I have a surprising low threshold for all things pre-pre-teen, so I appreciate those moms that can handle twelve 7-8-year-olds without going absolutely bat shit crazy. (It’s also quite possible they have already lost it.)

The Lake Erie Nature and Science Center (located in my very own hometown) hosts a fall and spring overnight for Girl Scouts. This fall’s theme is Teddy Bears. Cute.

We lug our two sleeping bags (incidentally my sleeping bag is the same sleeping bag I would have used when I was a Brownie if I hadn’t quit after the introductory meeting where we were informed that at some point we would need to stand up and say the Girl Scout Pledge – I like to call it “retro” Raggedy Ann and Andy), two pillows, two flashlights, a duffel with pjs, Pooh Bear and Beluga (duh!), and a stuffed koala that Morgan picked out for me. Notice no snacks/alcohol are packed. I must have been on drugs.

I’m thinking of making one of those youtube videos of Shit Brownies Say.

SCENE 1: I honestly don’t care who you pick for your buddy, but please make a decision and try not to hurt the other girl’s feelings who so obviously wanted to be your buddy despite the fact that you are clinging to another girl and completely ignoring her.

Whoever thought “buddies” was a good idea anyway. Way to go, Girl Scouts. If I were troop leader, I would not have let them pick. I would have assigned them a buddy. You get what you get and you don’t have a fit. Or perhaps you would rather be Mrs. Norcross’s buddy? Is that it? Nobody wants that, kids. (I honestly want to be the “fun” mom, but it is so much easier to be the mean one.)

SCENE 2: High Pitch Screaming

SCENE 3: And how about all the non sequitur comments and questions?

During the laying down of the rules, Morgan raises her hand. “Mrs. Florez, one time when I was here I saw the boa constructor (not constrictor) eat a rat.”


SCENE 4: High Pitch Screaming

SCENE 5: Somewhat related to the non sequitur is their ability to latch on to off the cuff comments and beat them like a dead horse.

LENSC Leader: When the lights go out, we will be on lock down – no one in or out. Because a couple years ago we woke up and couldn’t find a little girl.
Brownie 1: Did you find her?
LENSC: Yes (I don’t think we would be having another overnight here if they hadn’t)
Brownie 2: Where was she?
LENSC: In the nature garden.
Brownie 3: Were there animals out there?
Brownie 4: Was she in their cages?
LENSC: No, she couldn’t get in their cages and they couldn’t get out.
And so on, and so forth for fifteen minutes.

Now here is where it would have been appropriate to scare the bejeezus out of them so none of them got the same idea. “We found her with the turkey vultures and they were attempting to peck her eyes out!”

SCENE 6: High Pitch Screaming

SCENE 7: Anytime a person of authority opens their mouth, at least one Brownie will also be speaking. I have to applaud the women at the nature center (most notably the planetarium presenter) and their ability to completely ignore the questions and comments that would no doubt turn a twenty minute presentation into a 2-day retreat.

SCENE 8: High Pitch Screaming

SCENE 9: Potty talk.

Since it was just us girls, we were told that we could use both the boys and girls restrooms for toilets and sinks. This was followed by an explanation of urinals for the less worldly girls. Five minutes later when we break up for activities, we notice the girl’s room is empty but there is a line for the boy’s. Oi.

SCENE 10: Anything that remotely resembles what my grandmother would call “sass mouth”. Morgan might have an obsessive compulsive disorder bordering on the need for medicinal marijuana. And she may have periods of whine that can only be dealt with by an accompanying charcuterie and cheese. But other than the occasional sarcasm (which I can secretly admire), she does not sass mouth. Unfortunately, about a third of our troop are professionals in this field.

FINAL SCENE: High Pitch Screaming. And me, being carried out in a straight jacket because I have exactly a 30 second tolerance.

You may have guessed that I have extremely high standards for how kids behave in public. I did attempt to lower these standards for the evening, knowing how exciting and overwhelming it could be for them – especially if they had never slept over with friends before. And I think I bit my tongue surprisingly well, directing the bulk of my commentary to facebook.

But I hit the wall at eleven o’clock when the center called lights out. The logical part of my brain knew that there was no way these girls would calm down in anything less than forty-five minutes. The other part of my brain was screaming, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, GO THE FUCK TO SLEEP, BITCHES!

I compromised by not allowing Susan to get up and brush her teeth twenty seconds after getting the last of the troop in their sleeping bag. In my head I pictured John Bender. “Why does Andrew get to get up? If he get’s up, we’ll all get up! It will be anarchy!”

In the morning, our troop leader and one of the other mom’s commented on how well-behaved all the girls were. Oh boy. Yes, VERY different standards.  (Note to all my PTA friends:  Please don't stop letting your kids come over to play at my house.  I promise to behave myself.)

Two additional cups of tea…

Cup 1

Now, when I think overnight, I think slumber party. And when I think slumber party, I think food. This gives rise to a wild assumption that something beginning at 7pm and ending at 9am would include a tasty treat - perhaps before the planetarium visit. So I didn’t worry too much that I didn’t have time to eat dinner before going.

At about 9pm we got a snack of “bear food” (a very tasty trail mix of all things I love and nothing that is good for me) presented in a Dixie cup, a small tortilla (somewhat stale) to spread with cream cheese and honey, two pieces of strawberry, and two pieces of grapes. So that would be one strawberry and one grape. I may have stolen an extra Dixie cup of bear food. (Hey, I quit Girl Scouts, remember?)

To be fair, the morning breakfast was somewhat more robust, but I did receive a dirty look from Sassmouth #1 when she asked me why I was drinking a juice box instead of coffee like the other moms. Morgan had my back though.

Cup 2

Since our group chose to sleep by the turtle habitat we were also situated right next to the door to the nature garden (remember the escapee mentioned earlier).

Despite the lock down, our troop leader decided to sleep at the threshold of these double doors. Sassmouth #2 mentioned that maybe she would just step over her while she was sleeping, to which the leader replied that she would wake up because she was a very light sleeper.

I’m sorry, Ashley, but two minutes after lights out you were snoring (this is literal, not figurative) on the concrete floor and continued to do so until two thirds of the troop had woken up in the morning and each had visited the bathroom.

The spring overnight theme is Butterflies. It’s all you, Jacquie!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sandy, You Ignorant Slut

Day 1 of Captivity
Holding fast on Rank and Serial Number

It’s an adventure. Due to a somewhat state of denial, flashlights had to be found in various corners of the house (two under Zoe’s covers) after the lights went out. And even though I was home for at least an hour with power, I didn’t think to charge my drained cell phone.

No big deal.

Keep trying to do things like turn on lights and use apps on the WiFi only iPad, which is funny.

It’s not even that cold in the house, despite the fact that there seems to be a freight train running though it the windows are shaking so hard from the wind. School is called off for the next day, since there is no sign of it stopping in the next12 hours.

Facebook is alive with people who are NEVER on facebook. We put the kids to bed with an extra blanket, and I settle in with my laptop to let my cell phone suck the battery dry. I even get some writing done before heading to bed early.

In the morning, I assess the childcare situation. Sitter, parents and in laws are all out of power for the moment. I’ll just hang out and find a place to check my e-mail. Girls are excited to have McDonald's for breakfast and to spend time in their play land. A little play date with the one person in town that already got her power back. Off to a nearby library to do some homework and learn the finer points of checkers. (Zoe wants to learn chess – she is no Bobby Fisher.)

Non-functioning traffic light = 4-way stop. I guess people are a little fuzzy on that rule.

Off to the gym for dinner. It’s pasta night! We aren’t the only ones taking advantage of the dining room, showers, and electrical outlets. Get the official call that school is off for the next day.

Day 2 of Captivity
May mention where you can find a secret stash of automatic weapons. Granted permission to walk the yard.

My parents have power. Grab some clothes and entertainment and head out to the country. Papa makes the kids suffer through a documentary on the Men that Built America, so they get out their library books and read to Nana instead. Still making the best of things.

Get a good night sleep without the need for additional blankets.

Log in to work, despite the fact that it is technically my day off, just to get through missed emails and make sure the bank didn’t go under without me.

Facebook is a little disgruntled today. People are emptying refrigerators into the trash and bailing out basements. Getting a little miffed that all our utility workers were sent to the east coast and we have to wait for Toledo and the whole state of Michigan’s workforce to help the two people we still have. But at least people are keeping their political opinions to themselves. Silver lining.

I have to head out for one run to the BMV, which turns into a hike to Strongsville because the North Olmsted branch has no power.
Non-functioning traffic light = 4-way stop. Come on, people. This is basic driver’s ed. Kindly remove your head from your ass and pay attention.

School is officially called off for the next day again, so I’m leaving the kids and heading back home to keep Scott company. Doesn’t even feel like Halloween. I’m missing my favorite holiday and the Great Pumpkin is surely going to sail right over us without even blinking an eye.

Day 3 of Captivity
Sure, you can have the codes to all our nuclear weapons. (This is why they don’t trust me with top secret information.)

Why, in god’s name, do I keep trying to turn the kitchen light on?

Snuggle in front of the one gas fire place to read a book, which also happens to be in the smallest and coldest room of our house. Sit on a bean bag chair as close to the fire as I possibly can without burning my hair.

Head to bed wearing knee socks, two t-shirts, flannel pajamas, a hoodie and a stocking cap – using three extra blankets. Wind has died down so we can hear our neighbor’s generator running. Bastards.

Get up for work the next day and, after the hottest possible shower, throw on clothes that only slightly resemble business casual, but closer to “I just don’t give a damn” and head to work.

Non-functioning traffic light = 4-way stop. If you sons of bitches have not figured this out by now, all I can ask is that you do not procreate. Here is a refresher: wait your fucking turn!

I have seen one Toledo Edison van in all of Bay. I think he must be in charge of picking up sticks. Apparently, our local fireman went over 48 hours without sleep. Thanks for cutting them back this year, Mayor. (I know the people that are here, are working hard. I just wish they had some help.)

Will be taking clean clothes for the kids out to my parents tonight. Who knows what Day 4 has in store other than me developing Stockholm Syndrome and refusing to run any electricity after we actually get it back on.