Monday, September 30, 2013

The Elusive Wire Baskets

I know what Hell smells like, and it isn't good.

It turns out that Hell smells more of must, mold, mildew (three things that all mean the same thing), cat urine, human filth, and rotting building. In other words, a specific antique store I visited on Thursday.

It was horrible.

Fortunately, after a terrible experience in a Canterbury train station, I have always carried with me a sachet or perfume sample like a Medieval physician warding off miasma or a Victorian lady with her smelling salts. So the second I left that building, I had my Aerie perfume under my nose, sniffing to clear the hideous scent from my nasal passages.

Mum said, "That was horrible."

I said, "That was the scent of evil, or Hell. Probably both."

Mum said, "They should take out those leaded glass windows and burn that building to the ground."

I said, "Smells like that make people turn to Jesus, just to stay away from breathing that in for all eternity."

It was bad.

And while we may have picked up typhoid, diphtheria, cholera, polio, or all of the above as we walked through that building, we definitely didn't find any wire baskets. And then I went to many other antique spots in my area, and still no wire baskets.

Because antique places were closed after work on Friday, I hunted at Target and T.J. Maxx, just out of curiosity. I did find clear boxes for my shoes on sale for super-duper cheap, but no wire baskets. Target had been filled with wire baskets two weeks before, but no. They sold them off the second I started looking, because I wanted them and that's how life works.

Mum and Dad went to a wedding on Saturday while we stayed home, so I didn't do any searching. Fruitless quests are more fun with a partner, just ask Frodo.

And Sunday I spent the afternoon turning my closet from an explosion of yarn and mismatched hangers into this:

 I am rather proud of it.

The good news: everything is organized inside the closet.

The bad news is twofold. 1. Too much yarn, not enough space. 2. Stuff that didn't fit nicely is...on the floor in my bedroom. With the craft supplies that didn't have a home before. And still don't.

But progress is being made.

And as I rooted through the closet, I found a single wire basket. It wasn't as vintage-y as I would have liked, but it was the right size. When Mum saw it,  she said, "I have another one of those!" And she did. Not only that, we had a slightly bigger one. So I now have three mismatched wire baskets that will work!

That is big time progress.

Tonight's goal is to sort through that craft stuff, weed through purses, and find out where I want the baskets to hang inside the closet. And when that's done, out comes the electric drill!

I'm not going to bother spray painting the baskets until I have a chance to pick the best color possible. I haven't even looked at spray paint colors yet. I was more worried with the baskets.

Do any of you have a favorite sort of spray paint? Any spray paint tips? Let me know in the comments! This will be my first spray paint attempt ever, and I could use all the help I can get.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Great Wave of Organization

It started with the bookshelf. I had to pull every book from the shelf and stick it in a pile before painting the shelf, and looking at them sitting there, intermingled with an entire DVD collection and countless CDs, I decided to make improvements.

I bought giant rolling storage bins to fit under the bed and put all the DVDs and CDs inside. That left the bookshelf dedicated to just books--which was a huge step. Then I found I had my various pens and pencils (which I had shoved on the bookshelf, too), with no home.

That wasn't right.

Also, I had pulled out the craft storage from under the bed to fit in the rolling storage bins. That didn't so much work, because the craft bin wouldn't fit back under the bed with the big storage bins in place. I was left with a giant pile of crafty things. Oops.

There was no place for this stuff to go.

And, well...there wasn't about to be space for it, either.

The only thing I could think of was getting my new mattress frame. But shattering my body in a car accident (figuratively speaking), left me unable to work on my Big Project, which involved using a staple gun and foam and stretching fabric over everything and more stapling.

Something had to give, but it didn't, because my neck HURT.

And then yesterday, I got a call from Mum, who had found the table I'd been looking for since...well, ever. It would take the place of an oversized trunk (that we'd picked up from Hobby Lobby on sale) as my official entertainment center. Here, finally, would be a place to fit my TV and DVD/Blu-ray player! It was at T.J. Maxx, one of my favorite places on earth, and it was CHEAP.

When I came home, one other giant thing had been added to the huge mess I had in my room. It was a beautiful giant thing, but it was giant and in the way, so I had to rearrange things RIGHT AWAY.

I enlisted help with moving heavy objects--I still can't manage that--vacuumed, and settled down to sort through things.The trunk had been filled with pictures from ages back and everything travel-related from my trips to England and Europe. It is still filled with those things, but now it is filled with them outside of my bedroom while it waits for me to bring home archival boxes for the photos and memorabilia.

Then I drug everything out of my nightstand. This would be re-vamped to store office supplies in one drawer and knitting notions in the other. sorting this took several hours, but once it was done, I had two neat drawers and easy access to everything I'll need. This leaves only the craft supplies to be sorted, and I picked up three modular boxes (they stack well) for those. One will be dedicated to only paper and ephemera, the other for painting supplies, and the third for jewelry. I might pick up one more box for scrapbook paper, if it doesn't fit nicely in the first box.

My hope is that these boxes (which are tiny), will actually slide nicely under my bed right now, meaning I can take my time finding and purchasing the right mattress frame without living in chaos.

Next step? A complete closet rehaul. This will involve getting rid of tons of clothes that no longer fit, sorting all my yarn once and for all, and making good use of space (which I'm not doing at the moment. Here are some of my closet goals:

DIY Sturdy Foam Core Magazine Files Template and Tutorial from Positively Splendid here. I like the magazine files I’ve seen made with cereal boxes and recycled materials, but this one is really heavy duty.
Photo via Positively Splendid
 I'll make some magazine boxes to hold knitting patterns and other whatsits. Here's a tutorial via Positively Splendid. There's absolutely no reason to spend crazy amounts of money on a set of fancy, color-coordinated boxes when you can make them yourself for the cost of a bit of foam-core poster board and some cute scrapbook paper!

Next up I will hunt down some wire baskets--and goodness knows where I will find them or how long it will take to do so, spray paint them, and attach them to the back of my closet door.

I'll use these to store scarves, belts, and the few clutches that I use the few times I go to fancy places. In the process, I hope to pare down the sheer quantity of bags I have to the few that I actually use.

The effect will, I hope, be something like this project from The Lovely Cupboard.

photo via The Lovely Cupboard

My baskets will likely not be so cute to look at, since I doubt I'll find such neat vintage baskets, but they will be a cute color! 

I have books in the closet, too. And the books will have to find a nice place that is NOT the closet. The line has to be drawn somewhere, and I am drawing the line at my closet door. No books allowed!

I promise there will be pictures of all these going-ons, once the room is fit to be photographed. Right now it is still a disaster zone.

Monday, September 9, 2013


Well, Sunday I woke up at 5:00 AM, screaming into my pillow because I'd tried to roll over in my sleep only to discover immeasurable pain.

Just another Sunday, right?

Um, NO.

So I took ibuprofen (the medicine that God and Andrew Dunlop gave us so that we could function as adults in an ever-changing world), and I went back to sleep.

Except that later, when I woke up again, the ibuprofen had only made my neck angrier, and I could not get up. Also I could not roll over. Also I could not reach anything, including the remote for my television, my book, my knitting, and my laptop. Since not having any form of entertainment made being stuck in bed boring as well as excruciating, I grabbed my cell phone (fortunately, I had forgotten to plug it in to charge the night before, so it was within reach), and I called home.

Did I mention I was home?


I heard the phone ring on the other side of the house, and I prayed silently that this was not one of those days when my mother decided picking up the phone was a bad idea (she does this). But it wasn't, and she answered.

"Mum?" I said.

"Yes? Laura?"

"Yes," I replied. "I am trapped here."

If this had been a Stephen King novel, that would have been a very creepy sentence. Also it would have been nighttime, the East coast, and probably Maine.

"What?" Mum asked.

"I cannot get out of my bed."

This is one of those shameful things you say as an adult, all the while remembering those advertisements with the old lady on the ground crying out, "Help! I've fallen, and I can't get up!" The lady we made fun of on the playground in elementary school. I am that person now, but younger and with better clothes.

Mom helped me up, but I regretted it instantly.

An hour later, I was in the ER, waiting.

The ER is boring. Also it takes up to three hours for them to call your name, even if it LOOKS empty inside the waiting room. This is because everyone has better things to do than go to the ER on a Sunday, including medical staff.

To my shock, Dad had responded to Mom's notification that I was heading to the ER by also going to the ER. And so there were three of us and I felt like a four year old with two worried parents, which was slightly awkward until Dad found Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark on the ER television set, and then it was like home but with uncomfortable chairs.

It is whiplash. Which means I have this sexy collar to wear.


It is offensive, but it is an orthopedic device, so what can you expect? It's better than the way I was holding my head before (balanced on my right shoulder), even if I do have to eat like a dinosaur now (meaning I reach my whole head and neck toward my food like a stegosaurus, causing The Brother to hum the Jurassic Park theme at me as I ate my dinner last night. Since I am me, I made dinosaur calls as I ate instead of getting angry and throwing things at him.

 But because I am a knitter, I instantly found a better way to wear the neck collar.

There is a reason why I knit all these little scarves.

I was feeling pretty good about the whole scarf/collar combo until my friend Melanie brought up that I kind of look like Velma. Which meant nothing to me until I Googled Velma, and lo and behold, I am one orange turtleneck away from solving crime with a cowardly dog and a VW van.

Velma from Scooby-Doo. No, I did not 
draw this. It is all Hanna-Barbera, folks.
I don't know whether to be ashamed of this or proud. Without intending to, I have clearly reached cartoon immortality. I know what my Halloween costume will be now, if I ever have need of one. I mean, some people live their whole lives without ever knowing who their cosplay double is, but now I know, all it would take is a costume change and I would be Velma from Scooby-Doo, only not in a gross way. (Don't ever Google pictures of Velma and you'll never know why the gross. No really, don't Google Velma pictures. Don't.)

They also gave me muscle relaxers and prescription ibuprofen and a SHOT. The shot made me feel cozy, which was necessary, because without it I would have torn that neck collar of in a minute flat, like I want to do now. Apparently, the shot made my hyper-sensitive fear of strangulation (the reason why I don't already own a Velma-style turtleneck) fade enough that I could be comfortable in the brace thing. But the shot has worn off now, and it is only fear of agony that is keeping the brace on.

I should be okay soon, or so they tell me. But two weeks ago, they told me I was "clinically insignificant." So we'll see.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Please Make the Hurting Stop

I am a broken, broken person.

I mean it. Parts of me are about to fall off, or wither away. I feel like I have been tumble-dried, or hurled down a flight of stairs, or, gee, I don't a CAR ACCIDENT.

It's been almost two weeks since Bethany and I were bounced about like rag dolls. She still has her hands bound up in gauze as her burns heal, but I have nothing visibly wrong with me anymore.

Nothing VISIBLY wrong.

My back is killing me. It isn't really my neck, but a spot between my shoulder blades. After a while, it grows and encompasses my right shoulder and neck. And that is when I want to curl up in bed with my heating pad. Except that is not always smart.

I had nestled into bed like that earlier this week when I discovered at bedtime that I was unable to move. I had frozen there, like a turtle, my arms and legs the only mobile parts of me. My back had resigned its position as body-mover, and I was trapped there, waving my arms and legs, wishing it weren't so late and that I could call my family for help.

At around that same time, it occurred to me that our ancient heating pad might not actually have an auto-shut off feature. And if that was the case, I would slowly bake to death and die like that king Paul told me about who slowly roasted to death waiting for his servant to come help him, because he was too lazy to move his chair further from the fire. That was it. Laziness. Except in my case, I couldn't so much as unplug my heating pad, because I could not reach the cord.

I was trapped.

Clearly, I lived. But I could have died, and that is why we need a new heating pad.

This morning I tried the heating pad again, because I woke up feeling as if my head was connected to the rest of my body by a single, rusty hinge. I have spent my day attempting to remain as still as possible, not an easy feat with four classes coming through the library for activities. Meanwhile, I have taken ibuprofen, and I have taken Tylenol, and it has been as if the pills stared at me with their blank faces, laughing silently at me as they refuse to help.

Does anyone have a full-body cast they aren't using?

I keep telling myself to tough it out, because I'm from the Midwest, and we tough things out, but MAN does this hurt. And I have a really high pain tolerance. I know this because three different doctors told me so. Otherwise, I would have thought the opposite because I've always found pain pretty painful, generally speaking.

I want to be the kind of pioneer woman who plows things and then says, "Huh. This tooth hurts," gets the pliers, and does her own dentistry before going back outside to plow even more things.

I am not that sort of girl.

Instead, I'm resigning myself to the fact that I'll have to go back to the doctor to have him check me over again, just in case, so that I can maybe get that back brace I've never wanted, like Deenie from that Judy Blume novel of the same name.

In the meantime, whatever you do, don't hand me anything or give me things to do, because I can't hold anything or do anything. I'm lucky I'm standing right now. Wait. I'm sitting. You get the idea.

Instead, remember that I really want to be a fun, happy person, but pain has made me bitter and sarcastic. More bitter and sarcastic than normal. Remember Old Laura, and hope as I do that she will come back, with her fully functioning spinal column intact.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Dad's Withered, Aged Lungs

Sunday was Dad's birthday, so we vowed to take him out to celebrate on Monday, as none of us had to work that day, including him. He always works Sundays. It's a pastor thing.

I did an appalling amount of research and found a Chinese place that seemed promising, Wu's Fine Chinese, in Fort Wayne. We went. We ordered.

And the food was AMAZING. Not clumpy, corn-starchy grossness. No MSG, either. And rather than just listing negative things they DIDN'T do, everything was well-seasoned, cooked properly, and well presented. The wait staff was fantastic, too.

Dad was in heaven. He was eating everything, and then it happened. He sucked a chili pepper into his LUNGS.

The wait staff thought he was dying. Everyone came to make sure he was still alive, because his face had changed colors three times and the coughing still hadn't stopped. Finally, he fled the table to the restroom so he could cough without terrifying other diners.

A waiter came and asked us if we thought he should go check on Dad. I think he thought Dad had DIED.

When Dad came back, he finished sucking down his dinner and finished Paul's. He tried to explain to the waiter that he would have coughed that badly if he had choked on water, too. But no one believed him.

Best birthday dinner ever.