Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Sleep with the sheep

I hate to shop, but after repeatedly waking up with an aching back, I decided I had to do something about my mattress.

I have a waterbed frame (sans the water-filled mattress) and waterbed frames are a bit longer than standard bed frames. They make mattresses to fit waterbed frames, but the selection is limited. I thought about replacing my bedroom suite so that I would have more mattress options, but it's made from solid oak with cedar-lined drawers, plus none of the local charities will accept waterbed frames. So I thought maybe I should just get a standard queen size mattress and stuff something into the gap at the foot of the bed so the dog does not get trapped between the mattress and bed frame.

But which mattress? I stumbled upon a web site (which I cannot find now) that broke down the options based on a collection of criteria, and all the possibilities had drawbacks. I just could not generate any enthusiasm for any of the usual selections.

A while back, I read a memoir (title totally forgotten!) in which the author described sleeping on a wool mattress. Being a knitter, this appealed to me, so periodically, I would research wool mattresses. They are expensive and not available locally, so I was reluctant to purchase one without trying it out first.

But then I did. I ordered one from Surround Ewe, sight unseen. After sleeping on it for two months, I could not be happier about my decision.

I ordered a 4" topper with my mattress, and I am glad I did, because the mattress itself is very firm, very much like a futon. Surround Ewe included two wool pillows and a "summer weight" wool comforter with my order. It's like sleeping in a wool sandwich. I now think of the bed as my nest.

And it is a very warm nest. Before, I had a difficult time staying warm in bed, despite the following: topping the mattress protector with a doubled blanket, using flannel sheets, capping it all off with a fleece blanket and polyester comforter, wearing thermal pajamas and wool socks, AND making the dog sleep with me; sometimes I wore a wool sweater to bed and/or added an afghan to the mix. (I considered buying an electric blanket or mattress pad, but could not convince myself I wanted to sleep with all that wiring.) Now, I still use the flannel sheets and the dog makes sad eyes if I don't let her on the bed, but otherwise it is just the wool comforter. Summer weight or not, it will have to go come spring.

Surround Ewe has a "renewal" program for their products, but I am hoping I never need it. Theoretically (which means in my magical fantasy world), the bedding should last forever. Everything is covered in thick organic cotton, I air things out each day by throwing back the covers and turning on the ceiling fan for a bit (they recommend opening a window, but HELLO it is still winter here), and come summer I plan to air everything out in the sunshine once or twice.

I don't get very excited about anything I own, but if my house burned to the ground tomorrow, this bedding is one of the first things I would replace.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Time for spring cleaning (almost)

It's difficult to get in the mood for spring cleaning after it snowed yesterday and tomorrow promises freezing rain. Ugh. But there is not much else to do while awaiting spring. Except spend money.

Frequent readers will recall that last year I fired my professional carpet cleaners after discovering I could do a better job with a rented machine. One problem with renting a machine is the logistics of the rental, a definite deterrent when you want to clean a small area. Another problem is its heft; when I bumped it up against the baseboard, it scraped off the paint. So I broke down and purchased the above. It is still in the box, but once I get up the gumption to actually use it, I will report back.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Trim that tree!

I'm rather lucky when it comes to neighbors. Not only do I get along with them, they seem to get along with each other. Jack, the best neighbor in the world, lives across the street, but even he was a bit bothered by *his* next door neighbor's trees. I knew the two of them had been in negotiations over said trees, so I was not surprised when the sound of chain saws and wood chippers filled the air last week.

Unlike some people in my fair city, these two neighbors are not anti-tree. However, the branches of some of Sue's locust trees hung over the property line, dropping a shitload (ha! that word is recognized by spell checker) of fine leaves into his gutters each year. Also, recent wind storms had left several large branches hanging by a thread.

I thought the trees were coming down, but not so. The broken branches were removed, along with the lower ones that were behaving unneighborly, but the trees themselves remain, to provide much needed shade from the midday sun. I enjoy the golden leaves in spring, which turn green for summer, then yellow in the fall.

Most properties in this neighborhood are populated with silver maples, all of which are potential house crushers. Despite their height, locusts seem to be rock solid. A friend of mine had some locusts removed from her yard 25 years ago, and the stumps are still there.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


I didn't sleep well the night before last, just could not drift off (damn that five o'clock cup of coffee), but since I am RETIRED, I made up for the difference by sleeping in. Consequently, I was still in my pj's when the contractor called to say they were on their way. Wha'?!? Per usual, the customer communication of this business had fallen short; *they* knew they were coming, so surely I would too, by osmosis I guess. Anyway, I told them to give me an hour (to shower, dress, and clean up the kitchen), and I'd be ready.

Yesterday's effort involved replacing the corner piece of counter top with a seamless one. The big wait was the lag time between the ordering and delivery of said replacement. The new piece has straight edges, not as attractive, but I'd rather have that than rolled edges with a seam running through the piece.

The week before, the paint-and-ceiling crew came and fixed one join in the crown molding that I was willing to live with but that really bothered the owner of the contracting company; he's tall and it was the first thing he saw when he stepped through the front door. The join is still discernible, but the light has to be just right and you really have to look for it.

So now everything really, really, REALLY is finished, at least as far as the big projects are concerned. There are many little things to do, but I can address them catch-as-catch-can. Oh, and I should probably write them a check, too.

Start date: April 9
Finish date: December 16

As with most major home improvement projects, I'm satisfied with the results, but it was painful getting there. Very few problems arose, though, a minor miracle considering how much work was done. I am a happy homeowner.

Friday, November 28, 2014

The decluttering continues

While playing with my new Nook Tab, I tested downloading books from the local library's Overdrive site, and wound up with The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, by Marie Kondo. I'm about halfway through, and while I doubt I will start thanking my shoes for doing a good job or petting a coat as I hang it in the closet, I admit I agree with much of what she recommends.

In the course of the remodeling, I got rid of a lot of things. Some stuff went to Habitat ReStore, some to Goodwill, some to the landfill. The 20+ years of computer equipment is still here because I have this misguided idea that I need to copy everything off the hard drives, JUST IN CASE. I did buy a doodad that will allow me to do that, but I have not yet put it to use. Never mind that I have not even booted up any of those computers in over ten years.

Paper is the bane of my existence, though. Again, much of it has found its way out of my house via the shredder and the recycling bin, but too much remains. My desk has a file drawer in it, and my goal is to reduce the amount of paper in my life to what fits in there. Right now I have about four times that amount.

Just like the data on the hard drives of my old computers, I have not accessed a lot of this paper since filing it away. There are user manuals for things I no longer own, instructions for assembling furniture that was assembled right out of the box, outdated insurance policies, expired warranties, annual reviews from 20 years ago, certificates of participation for work-related seminars, an essay I wrote to accompany my application to an MBA program, etc. You get the picture.

Just like Kondo suggests, I handle each item and decide its fate. I've been working through the easy stuff first (see above), but there is so much paper, my brain tires from making decision after decision. Initially, I tossed user manuals for things I still own, but then I glanced through the one for the power screwdriver that died and discovered the rechargeable battery is replaceable. So now I want to save *all* the user manuals.

Slowly but surely, I am getting there, and hopefully will stay there. A couple of strategies help going forward. One is to not let more paper into the house. I do this by going paperless whenever I can, for banking, utility bills, and credit card statements. This leads to another strategy: if the information is available online, I don't need my own personal copy of it. Thirdly, I used to devote some time at the end of each year to winnowing the accumulation of paper over the previous 12 months. That habit needs to be reinstated.

I haven't reached the "magic" part of Kondo's book yet, but I do feel lighter, less burdened, as the junk clears out.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

I lied. Again

The remodeling is not quite done yet. There were a couple of things that still bugged me, the worst being the kitchen counter. There is an almost-square section between the refrigerator and the stove, not very big but used very much because of its location. It is also a corner piece, and because I selected a rolled edge for the counter top, there was a big fat seam running up the middle of it, from inside corner to out. I had been told the counter top would have seams, and I thought that was just a cosmetic problem, not a functional one. Now I know better, especially after this particular seam developed a hump.

Eventually, the manufacturing rep showed up and deemed it fixable, but the fix is not 100% perfect. When a glass or plate slides across the seam, it bumps. If I had hired Joe Blow to install the counter top, I would have let it go. But for the amount of money I am paying, I want things to be as close to perfection as possible. I'll ruin them later myself.

I wasn't getting anywhere with the project managers I had been working with, so I went right to the top, asking the owner/president to come take a look. We go a ways back, as this company has done much work for me over the years. And he agreed that the seam just was not right.

So that part of the counter top is to be replaced with one that has no seam. This means no rolled edge on that section, but I would be surprised if anyone notices that. Once that is fixed, I can stop fretting and start enjoying my "new" house. (Fingers crossed.)

Friday, October 31, 2014

I vant to be alone

I may jinx myself by saying it out loud, but I think the remodeling is *finally* done. Today the counter top was fixed and the seams sealed, the underside of the house inspected (no evidence there has ever been water in my crawl space - good to know), this and that checked, and walls touched up. Not only does the house look great, but NO ONE IS EVER COMING TO MY HOUSE EVER AGAIN. Not really, but I am looking forward to some solitude. As soon as Halloween is over. And Women's Weekend. And the holidays. Maybe come January?