Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My not-so-secret shame

After the inspiration post the other week, photos of the actual backyard should have followed promptly. As they would have, were I not ridiculously embarrassed of how bad it's gotten back there.

"You expect me to poop in this craphole?!"

That was taken from the sliding door in the office, facing southwest. Note side of neighbor's garage and, uh, rustic? shabby chic? fence.

The classy item, the Lutyens bench, was Michael's from before we met. The distinctly unclassy item, the Easter Island head, was a plastic piece of crap I bought off eBay. Go Team Trailer Trash!

Facing west, with the garage wall on the left:

Note rangy lavender bush and bare dirt where the dog leaps from the porch.

Looking south from the north end of the back beck:

The half-wall used to run almost all the way around the perimeter of the deck, but Michael removed all but this side, which blocks the view of our aircon unit, which is older than either of us. Underneath the deck is cracked cement.

Yes, we have a lot of outdoor furniture, none of which matches. This is what happens when you get married as old farts, so there's a lesson in that, somewhere. Also, unused dog crate and, way back and on the right, the wrought iron table that Michael tiled with a representation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Who said I had all the class in this family?

Also note ghetto corrugated porch cover. What I didn't manage to snap a good photo of is the section above the grill, which buckled pretty severely and started leaking during the recent Snowpocalypse.

Here's a really "great" shot of how crappy the grass looks:

Sod courtesy of dogpiss and spazzed-out labradoodle.

So now it's out there, the reason why I lie and tell people that we don't have a backyard. Hopefully this will be the kick in the slats I need to help Michael get this done. He's already got the entire space exquisitely detailed in Google Sketch Up, so it's only a matter of time until I come home to a driveway piled five feet high with pea gravel.

An attempt at greenthumbery

I'm a notorious plant killer. I even managed to kill the cilantro plant that I potted in the Grobal self-watering planter, FFS.

Which is why I'm unconscionably proud of the fact that I haven't killed the plants I got from Ikea. Yet.

This is a selection of three succulents that were $2 or $3 each, plus pebbles ($3, IIRC), and a glass dish that the magnolias Michael gave me for Valentine's day were floating in:

I probably should have put pebbles on the bottom for drainage as well, but so far they're doing well under my benign neglect. The grayish-blueish one on the right has even sprouted a baby!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Oh, the irony...

Just had to post this sort-of knock off of a Risom lounge chair. More "reminiscent of" or "inspired by" than "copy of", though.

Here's the Craigslist find:

And here's the original:

The arms on the original are definitely more elegant, but I actually prefer the rope to the cotton webbing.

Knock it off

A recent post at Apartment Therapy kicked up the old "licensed vs. knock-offs" debate again, and it got me thinking.

I'm honestly quite torn on this. To a large extent, I agree with one of the commenters on the original post about IP being a less important consideration than issues of sustainability and fair working conditions. If a licensed reproduction is produced in a way that is closer to my principles than an unlicensed reproduction, that's certainly a mark in its favor.

On the other hand, how can Herman Miller justify charging $829 for a 15" walnut stool? The original creator (as well as her estate) has long since been adequately remunerated for her intellectual property.

I've also been at a loss to find any information on the Herman Miller or Vitra websites about where the walnut for this piece comes from or under what conditions it's made. Does it come from an FSC-certified forest? Is the laminate or glue low-VOC? Is it made in the US or other developed country where workers are paid a living wage? Is it made in a union shop?

These are the issues that are important to me, but none of the online retailers I've found provide any information about them. What this tells me is that the appeal of licensed reproductions has less to do with what I consider to be the real value of an object, and more to do with the label.

That said, I still love that stool. I love the lines and the richness of the wood. My M.O. is to haunt Craigslist and other resources until I find one, used. This also prevents the waste and resource use inherent in buying anything new, licensed or not. And if the seller wants to give me a certificate of authenticity, I'll take it and put it in a file folder somewhere, on the off chance I'll need to sell it in the future to some other brand-whore.

Many argue that intellectual property is inviolate, and that if you can't afford the real thing, you should refrain altogether. Leaving aside the fact that it's impractical to ask people to sit or sleep on the floor rather than buy a knock-off (yes, I slept on a blanket in our college apartment for three weeks because I didn't have enough money for a bed), I'm accustomed to doing without until I can afford to pay cash (not credit) for quality. I didn't own a car until a few years after college because I could take the bus to work, and I was raised to believe that car payments are stupid. When I had $7,000 saved up, I bought a used Subaru and drove it with virtually no problems for years.

That's an example of my individual priorities, though, and I'm a terrible hypocrite when it comes to certain things. Like those acrylic tables I ordered last week that were probably made in China. And the Ikea wool rug I bought when I decorated my first house many years ago, which was probably made by child labor, or at least in some third-world hellhole of poverty and abuse. I try to keep my consumption of such things to a minimum, but sometimes my needs, my wants, and my cheapitude get the better of my intentions.

The older I get, the more I try to bring my actions in line with my ideals. Of course, the older I get the more money I have to pay for those ideals, so I can't condemn the choices of those without the resources I have.

In the end, any douchebag with $5,000 to burn can afford a Barcelona lounge chair. It's high-end mass produced, but it's still mass produced. I honestly don't see value in it equal to the cost, especially if there are no guarantees that $5,000 pays for the qualities that truly matter to me, and not just a sticker underneath where I park my ass.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Some of my favorite songs right now...

Fever Ray, I'm Not Done

Diplo/Kazu, Sushi Chop (via Mad Decent)

He is risen!

I came into work today to find those plastic Easter eggs scattered around the office. Apparently, the fable of the resurrected rabbit includes a fake mustache, since that's what I found (along with some candy, natch) in the egg nestled in my pencil cup:

Of course, since one facial appendage leads to another, I had to break out the clown nose:

I could go steal the eyepatch from the lady in QA, but would that be too much look?

Etsy shopper

Style Spy just had a post about a really cute, colorful Kenneth Jay Lane necklace:

At $300, that's a little steep for enamel. Being the cheap-ass Pollack frugal shopper I am, I went to my go-to source for all things jewelry - Etsy!

For $165:

For $129 (and how can you go wrong with a seller called "bionicunicorn"?)

For $96 (plus a little more in shipping, since the seller is in the UK):

For $32 (a little more subdued in weight and palette, but still a statement necklace):

Actually, I think that last one's my favorite. Gotta love the red-and-turquoise combo.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Disappearing tables

Last Sunday, I went a little nuts and bought a bunch of houseplants at Ikea. Once I got them home and potted up, I realized that we have a dearth of side tables. So, I want places to put plants (and beverages and remotes and maybe feet), but I don't want to clutter up the joint visually.

I'd been eying cb2's acrylic nesting tables for a while, but after browsing the site, found I preferred the Monacle [sic] side table (possibly because it shows up in the apartment of that muscle-bound, tattooed pixie on Color Splash):

(BTW, it's backordered until the end of April, despite what the website may say.)

I also ordered this acrylic side table from Overstock:

Both are on sale for about $100 each.

I'm still toying with the idea of getting this for the entry way. $295's a little much for acrylic, though, don't you think?