Household Maintenance

As you can see by the size of the ferns, this has been a season of overwhelming growth in the Pacific Northwest. The sword ferns normally are dwarfed by the hosta (on the left), but this year, they dwarf all but the firethorn (trunks in the background), which thinks it’s really a tree.

But Jer continues his battles with excess foliage. First he took out the moss-covered bricks in the garden room and replaced them with gravel. Since then, he’s done some sweet things with the gravel (adding small black stones for a Japonisme look) and pots with plants. Thus far we don’t see these as “foliage,” although the ferns, in spite of being crushed by the bathroom construction, came back in good states.

Out front, he’s cleared a way through the debris of a spreading (campanula?) plant that makes nice blue flowers and then dies in unsightly heaps. He’s replaced the campanula (at least for this year — it tends to come back) with a set of pots that make us almost look civilized:

He’s not finished with the pots yet — the two in front need a few more color spots (I’m rooting for more marigolds) to finish them out. But they are definitely a sign that the gardener has emerged and is taking charge.

Finally, the Great Mattress Replacement: 33 years ago we found a wonderful bedstead at a divorce sale in Emporia Kansas. The owners called it “Missouri Baroque” and mumbled things about it being in the family for a long time, hand-made, stuff that owners who are moving out-of-town will say. We always loved the bed frame, but discovered quickly that it was too short for conventional mattress size (which tended to confirm some of the mumbles). My memory said that at the time (circa 1977) it was about 1/4 of an inch too short, but when we measured it recently, the frame length was 71 inches, four inches short of a standard mattress and five inches short of what one needs for comfortable bed making.

We had a special mattress and box springs made for that bed, in 1977, and in 2010, about two weeks ago, Jer said that he thought maybe the mattress should be replaced. I had been lobbying for a year or so to have this done. We had both resisted the idea because we knew that the frame was short and the hassle of replacement was going to be long. But, having Neighbor Jim the woodworker at hand, and because the springs were starting to poke out the sides of the mattress (we won’t speak of sagging and swooning), we decided to have the frame reworked. And so, by next week sometime, we hope to be sleeping on a new structure in an old frame. Jim also saw a crack in the panel at the top of the bed and allowed as how not only could he fix it but he could perhaps also make it so it wouldn’t crack again.

Here is the dismantled frame, awaiting its rails and panel.

Glory be — major upgrades in the Underwood household. New hips, refurbished beds, flowers in the garden. The next thing you know the firethorn will be tamed. Although I’m wishing that we could find some young hungry arborist to take care of that particular nuisance. –June

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4 Responses to Household Maintenance

  1. june says:

    Thanks, Thelma,

    Jim is matching the wood from the original, staining it to match, and using the old hardware. The hardware is interesting, a half-circle which holds the flanges (or whatever they are called) that fit into the head and foot boards. Something new for him.

    We decided we loved the bed enough that we wanted to do it proud. He is really working to maintain its original look. It’s a fun project for all of us, and something that needed to be done. And I can hardly wait for the new mattress.


  2. thelmasmith says:

    June and Jer,
    Your bedstead is american walnut. It was made around 1870. The genre is called renaissance victorian. The headboard had a panel of half inch, edge glued, boards filling the empty space.
    In the past when I’ve needed that walnut I’ve replaced it with a piece of upholstered masonite.
    The side rails can be extended; I expect that is what your carpenter friend will do. Sometimes, when I was really scavenging for good walnut I would replace them with angle iron; welding the flat iron fittings to the long pieces. If this is way early in the post civil war era the fitttings in both the bed stead and the side rails would be iron or possibly cast iron.
    You have no idea how many of these beds I’ve loaded and unloaded onto trucks; these were the sort of mercantile activity that raised three children and kept me off the streets and out of the bars.
    Speaking of which, you and I need to go out and check out a few of those establishments one of these years. t


  3. june says:

    We checked Consumer Reports, which had lots of general advice, but little helpful specific stuff. They said it was the area that they got the most questions about (and had the least helpful advice). Apparently the mattress business is all over the place — stores put their own names on brands that are exactly the same as the ones in another store down the street for $500 difference in price, etc.

    We went to Sears because they are convenient (LLoyd Center), generally reliable, and they deliver — also their saleswoman was not too obnoxious — a real point in their favor.

    I laid down on all the mattresses. The one that suited me best, most helpfully, also had the least height. Since the old bed is already quite tall, I would have to use a ladder for most of the supersized mattresses that were available.

    We thought about the bike delivery guy, but got side-tracked and ended up at mid-level, mid-service, generally OK, Sears.


  4. gerrie says:

    I have been thinking about mattresses because there are sooo many stores and sales and people waving those big arrows on the corners. I wondered how many people are buying mattresses and how often. You proved one of my thoughts – that people don’t get new mattresses that often (of course, you had a very good excuse!!) I ramble, but I still wonder about all those people trying to sell mattresses. I am glad you found a solution to your situation. Nice to have a friendly neighbor who does woodwork. You have certainly benefited from his expertise.


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