Monday, March 10, 2008

March 9: trying to arrange the front room

Oh boy, I asked for this one.

A post on AT showed a photo with the same tall, pressed board book cases that I have, and I left a comment along the lines of "I have those same shelves! If I focus too much on it, the joint in the middle drives me crazy." See, the shelves are basically two short cases stacked on top of each other, precariously held together by four short plastic dowels. They're great ... if you never try to move the cases ... while they're full of books. I was convinced we could get the cases on sliders and slide then to flank the new entertainment center getup I put together. Well, my friend W and I got them on sliders, but as we were pushing one of the shelves to the far side of the entertainment center, the bottom case caved in. That's what we get for pushing the top half, leaving the bottom to bear way too much stress--the friction from the floor, the torque from the top being pushed, all that physics hoo-ha. So yeah, the bottom crumbled, the books tumbled, I ... uh ... fumbled and found myself holding the top half in my arms, full of heavy books. We slowly laid the books out on the floor as if it were a fainting woman.

casualties of furniture arranging

casualties of furniture arranging

After assessing the damage and finding it irreparable, I resolved, "Ah well--I needed to get rid of more books, anyway." I kept thinking back to Maxwell's words of wisdom about how old books sorta stifled new creativity--they were good while it lasted, but now it's time to make room for something new! Let's see *flipping pages*--ah yes, here it is: "Books are good resources and markers of experience, but we all tend to hold on to far more than we actually use. To ease the process, it is helpful to realize that books are collections of memories and old thoughts, not new ones; they carry an emotional weight as well as a physical one. On the subject, I have often quoted Karen Kingston's words from Creating Sacred Space with Feng Shui to my clients: 'Holding on to old books doesn't allow you to create space for new ideas and ways of thinking to come into your life.' Not only is letting go clearing out the old, it is also trusting in the future."

So, we had a usable top section of shelf, and I filled it with some of my favorites from that case for awhile before we decided to deal with the second book case. This time, we took all the books out before moving it and sliding it to the other side of the entertainment center. We stood back and looked. The whole grouping looked like stairs, with the tall book case, the shorter entertainment center in the middle, and the new short book case on the other side. Neither of us liked the look of it so ... we broke the other book case so we had some uniformity. We tried to just ease it apart, but there were connectors we couldn't access, so we just snapped the two plastic dowels that were holding us back. So then, I had two short shelves flanking the entertainment center. I filled it with some of my favorites from that shelf (minus the cookbooks, which just wouldn't fit), then we stood back and took a look. Neither of us liked the look of it. The entertainment center--really just a black utility shelf--was like a bix black square--the big TV screen, the stereo components, and the shelf. It was fine when it wasn't flanked by the two lighter-colored book cases. W looked at me and said, "You know, I really liked them better where they were. I should've said something." I replied, "Yeah, I liked them there, too, but this just seemed like a better idea. I was really wrong." Plus, while the symmetry with the group was nice, it looked really cluttered in context with the rest of the room. So ... time to spread out again, perhaps.

I'd been thinking about just getting shelves that span the wall where the cases were--that way, I got back an inch or two of floor space and I could fit more stuff. I've also considered getting just one, good quality, tall book case, maybe with doors so my books and my few tchotchkes don't get dusty so easily. Maybe I'll just keep using the short shelves in the places I instinctively placed them when Hun and I first put them together. Dunno. I didn't like the gap between them--it seemed like a waste of space, but I wanted to be able to access the outlet on that wall. At least the short cases look better than the tall cases with the seem halfway up the case.

I told W that I'd just sort through my books again and put even more in the outbox (about 50 books, she suggested, to make them all fit well). Deep breath. In the stack of books, I found the old "All About Me" book that was kinda trendy about 8 years ago. Somewhere in it is a description of my dream home, complete with a big library with tall book cases and a bay window for a window seat. It's definitely not the home I ended up with. And a nagging part of me is trying to get the rest of me to admit that it's not the house I need. In the same book, I wrote about how I disliked excess, especially material excess--that unfulfillable desire to have more and more things. I wrote about how I hated having so many things I felt like I didn't need. One of those voices from the past is right, and I'm tending to thing it's the latter voice. There are a lot of things I can fill my little house with, but it doesn't have to be material stuff.
front room in progress

As for the rest of the front room, it seems to be holding up fairly well. After our attempt at arranging furniture, we closed the day out by making pierogies from scratch. I pushed my futon up a little and was able to fully extend my gateleg table so we could roll out dough on one end and sit and fill the pierogies on the other end. Then we ate them with onions, the whole shebang sauteed in butter. And I did up a cake.

Here, W beats potatoes for the pierogies while Scotch the Dog, always underfoot when there's food around, blinks for the camera.
Wendy making pierogies

All in all, a satisfying day. Later that night, I discovered a bruise the size of a large grapefruit on my thigh, and a large knot under it, from where I caught the book case with it. My first Burrow Cure battle wound! I finished copying the last of my CDs, which was cool. I also replaced my old shower rings with rings that had roly balls. W mentioned she had the same ones and while she liked how easily she could open her curtain, she didn't like the noise they made. They weren't any noisier than the rings that stuck, and in fact, they at least slid more easily, so the noise was briefer. Today's homework for after work is to sort through my books, carefully shuffle the cases around to see if I can find a placement for them I like, and hopefully get my rug back into my room.


CQ in DC said...

Oh no! You must be careful- we have many weeks left to go so you can't injure yourself this early. I'm another person who always thinks it will be possible to shimmy bookcases full of books into a new location- luckily saner heads always prevail and they get emptied before moving.

I wonder if you have considered replacing the entertainment unit? The black metal doesn't seem to blens as well with the wood tones of the rest of your furniture. Perhaps you would be happy with the low bookcases flanking something that looked more like them?

Julie said...

Thanks so much, CQ! I appreciate the kind and supportive words. I do need to remember to be careful. I'm always rushing, looking for time savers, partly because I'm on a deadline, partly because I'm lazy.

I have considered a raplacement for the entertainment unit. I looked around a bit today at lunch, but almost everything I saw was dark wood or black veneer with metallic uprights--stuff like that. I'm going to measure the existing unit because I'm defintely happy with the width and heigh, so I'd want something comparable. W suggesed designing a skirt to wrap around the center--something I could open up like a puppet show theater when I wanted a puppet show ... er, I meant TV show. ;) If I had any sewing skills, I'd brave it. If it weren't a wire shelf, I'd paint it white, like the condo's trim. I'll keep thinking on it. =)

Cristina said...

One word for you...IKEA. The last time I was there they had some nice shelf units for flat screens.

Just an idea...

Julie said...

Cristina, I'm dragging you there when you come to visit in a few weeks! ;D

Wendy said...

Scotch cracks me up with the blinking. What a good puppy! Your place looks sweet online. To think I was there, I saw the shelf fall. [good times] ;P

Julie said...

Wendy--totally good times! The bruises I came away with from that are crazy, though!