04 August 2003 - 4:24 PM
Family Furniture Chaos
You can always count on family to enliven the dull times. Just when I thought I was going to have a quiet weekend of Yet More Pennsic Prep, the familial chaos needle swung off the scale.
A few short updates are in order. Maman spent most of the last week on a splendid island, enjoying the beach. She returned Thursday. Sis and her husband took off Wednesday for a short trip to Cooperstown, where she says there is a very nice art museum and cool farm museum, as well as two breweries which give tours. So there are reasons to visit the place even if the Baseball Hall of Fame is not on your list of places to visit before you die.
Shortly before all this gadding about, Grandmaman issued one of her semi-annual Unreasonable Demands Which Must Be Fulfilled At Once. In this case, she desired to distribute some furniture, so as to clear space in her apartment for some large recliners she wishes to purchase and a high-end electronic treadmill for her personal use. Well, she's 85, and if she wants to trade in the Victoriana for LA-Z-Boys and exercise equipment, what the hey. She can afford it, and Sis and I rarely turn down furniture.
However, the whim du jour required more than removing a couple of chairs from the apartment. She wanted to shed two Victorian parlour chairs, one smallish settee, and a large Georgian-style dining table and six chairs to go with it. (The remaining six are to be distributed at some future date). Her idea was that Sis would take the parlour furniture and the dining pieces would go to me. Sounds nice except that I don't have enough room for even the table in its most collapsed state, much less the chairs. Fortunately, Sis has room for the table and all 12 chairs, so we organised a quiet swap of the dining room pieces for the smaller parlour chair and some players to be named later. Grandmaman would have a world-class temper tantrum if she knew we weren't taking exactly what she gave us and liking it, but since she doesn't see well and rarely leaves the retirement communituy any more, there should be no problems.
Sis, Maman, and I all have capacious vehicles, but we were unsure that even with all three of them that the furniture would fit, and since most of the furniture is going to Sis, it made sense to rent a truck and condense the number of cars in use. Before she left for Cooperstown, Sis sensibly reserved a truck at the local truck rental place.
There was some missed communication about when we were all supposed to meet, which made from some exciting hopping about on Friday when Maman was returned home but Sis was not, and I had a bad moment on Saturday when, while out running household errands, I spotted a guy of my brother-in-law's general configuration driving a rental truck in the vicinity of where the fun was to take place, but the real chaos didn't spring forth until Sunday morning.
I got up fairly early and staggered downstairs to the computer with my cup o' caffeine to check email before rousting the Viking out of bed and setting off for the grand adventure. I had barely connected when Maman sent me a frantic IM. "Have you talked to your sister this morning?" she wanted to know.
Um, no, I hadn't talked to my sister since yesterday evening. What's happened in the last 8 hours?
"She called the truck place and they said they had no record of her reservation. So she called the other branch in Hyattsville in case she'd gotten them confused and they didn't have a record of her reservation either. So now she's calling the regional office." Right-o. Well, the Viking and I were planning to empty Buttercup this weekend in anticipation of Pennsic waggonloading -- I guess we'll just be doing it earlier and more quickly than we had thought.
The Viking himself staggered downstairs with his cup o' caffeine just as Sis sent her own frantic IM. I will not quote hers because it was largely profanity. The regional office of the truck rental company had made various sad shrugging noises in her general direction and referred her back to the local office, which assured her that they did not have a reservation, and therefore she could not have a truck. I relayed the critical information to the Viking, who grunted and disappeared.
Bless his blond heart, when I found him again, he was sweeping the last of the miscellaneous crud out of the tailgate. Useful but not needful things (stray tent stakes) were piled into a box, general trash was thrown out, and strapping-things-to-the-roof equipment was neatly piled in the cargo area, in case we needed to strap anything to the roof. As soon as he was done, I tossed a few blankets into the back to use as padding and we took off.
We all arrived in Grandmaman's parking lot about the same time, got spaces nearly next to each other, and headed in. The Viking, as token col rouge, had the fun task of figuring out how (if) the legs could be removed from the dining table. Sis and her husband (who needs a nickanme for the diary) set about gathering the leaves. I collected the odds and ends of hardware that came out from under the table as the Viking did this thing (an alarming number of nuts and washers). Maman made cheerful soothing noises at Grandmaman and Grandpapa. Nothing was dropped and save for me bashing my hand into the wall with the full weight of the settee behind it, no one was hurt (and I was more embarrassed than hurt. Public klutziness is like that). It was almost as though we knew what we were doing.
Once we got all the furniture down to the vehicles we started playing 3-D puzzles until it all somehow got in. Maman's truck actually held most of it; the dining room chairs were divided between Sis's wagon and my truck. The caravan pulled out and took to the highway, arriving at Sis' house in Greenbelt without incident. We unloaded, decided lunch would be a good idea, and left for a restaurant at noon. After eating and making a quick trip to the new IKEA (look, stuff we need for Pennsic!) we went back to chez Sis to collect our respective vehicles and go home.
Funny thing: when Sis got home after lunch and IKEA, she checked her voicemail. At 12:30, there was a message from the local truck rental place, confirming her reservation and assuring her that she could pick the truck up any time. Heh. I can only imagine the deep hurting that is going on at the regional (and possibly national) HQs of the company this morning.